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Carpenters ready to build big in Springfield Posted by on

A story at highlights the efforts by MGM Grand and the Carpenters union to ensure that local workers are given priority consideration for work opportunities during upcoming construction of a casino in Springfield and that those jobs come with good wages and good benefits. Carpenters Local 108 Business Manager Jason Garand, who led the effort for a memorandum of agreement with MGM, is prominently featured in the piece.

Garand points to the work the union completed at Baystate Medical Center--and the way the hospital structured the contracts to encourage hiring from the area--demonstrated how the MGM project can succeed, even at a much larger scale.

Building trades unions in Massachusetts are currently working with casino developers to craft labor agreements that could create consistency in standards and working conditions for all facilities being proposed in the state.

Revere again votes yes on casino Posted by on

Plans for Mohegan Sun to build a $1.3 billion hotel and casino at the Suffolk Downs horse track in Revere were approved by voters in that city for a second time yesterday. The fate of the project still hangs in the balance, as it will now go head-to-head for state approval for the single Eastern Massachusetts gaming license with a proposal by Steve Wynn in Everett. State officials are expected to hand down a decision in May or June. Union carpenters in Revere played a significant role in the campaign to approve the proposal, as they have in each of the gaming votes across the state.

Yesterday's vote was the second held for a proposal at the site. An earlier version was voted down by Revere and Boston voters, which led to modifications of the project so that the gaming facility would sit entirely on the Revere portion of the Suffolk Downs property.

As part of the state's approval of legalized gaming, three gaming licenses will be issued for casinos and one for a slot parlor. One casino license will be issued in a zone in western Massachusetts, one in a zone that covers the central and eastern part of the state, excluding southeastern Massachusetts and one is being held for a proposal for a Native American-owned proposal in southeastern Massachusetts. MGM Resorts has received local approval for a casino in Springfield, the only pending proposal for the western zone. A proposal for the southeastern zone is still pending.

Three slot parlors proposals by different developers are under consideration for locations in Raynham, Leominster and Plainville.

Rheaume interviewed for WBUR casino story Posted by on

Local 1305 member and Business Manager Ron Rheaume was interviewed as part of Boston National Public Radio affiliate WBUR's coverage of a casino proposal in Taunton. The Mashpee Wampanoags unveiled their proposal for a $500 million 150,000 square-foot resort-style casino last week. It is expected to create 1,000 union construction jobs.

Legislation legalizing casino gaming in Massachusetts passed last year allows for up to three casino licenses and one slot parlor licencse to be granted. The state was divided into three geographic regions, within which one of the licenses can be granted. The license designated for southeastern Massachusetts is being reserved for a period to allow Native Americans to propose and negotiate with the state for that region's license.

The Boston Globe also covered the presenation of the Mashpee Wampanoag proposal.

Local 218's Frost again featured on NPR Posted by on

Last year Local 218 Carpenter Bill Frost became quite a visible supporter of the legalization and construction of resort casinos in Massachusetts. He spoke at hearing and rallies, eventually writing and reading a commentary in support of casinos at the request of WBUR, a Boston National Public Radio affiliate. Frost's commentary was honored with a national award from Public Radio News Directors Incorporated.

With the casino debate being taken up by the Massachusetts legislature today, Frost was once again asked by WBUR to write and read a new commentary piece on the issue. It aired today and can be read and listened to on their website.

What it's really like to be long-term unemployed Posted by on

Brother Bill Frost, a member of Carpenters Local 218 spoke this week at a Massachusetts State Senate hearing on the issue of expanding casino gaming in the Commonwealth. Earlier this year, Frost spoke at a rally before a lobby day by union members at the State House when the House of Representatives were considering their own bill. (more from that event here.

At a time when Frost was working steadily, his wife was struck with cancer. Feeling lucky to have health coverage, Frost was able to focus entirely on helping his wife fight for her life. Now, after a long stretch of unemployment, Frost can't help but wonder what would happen if his wife's cancer had come now. How would he pay for her treatment? And much would his support of her have suffered from the distraction of worrying about the bills rather than his wife?

This week, he spoke about the response to his earlier statements and gave insight into the real impact of long-term unemployment.

First, let me apologize for my appearance, I wouldn??t show up to speak dressed like this, except I??ve been lucky enough to have been called back to work and I came directly from the job. After the year that I had, blowing off a full days pay was out of the question.

When Speaker DeLeo first kicked off this push for destination casinos, I was invited up here to The Hill for the first time to speak about job creation and what those jobs would mean to unemployed construction workers.

I told of my wife??s battle with breast cancer, and how I could focus on her needs because I had steady work and excellent health coverage. I explained that if I were today, faced with the same challenge, instead of ??what can I do to facilitate Deb??s recovery???, my first thought would have been ??How am I going to pay for this???

The response that I received tells me that while all the guys in the orange T-shirts get it, only a few of the suits really understand the effect of long term unemployment.

First, you don??t know that it??s long term until its way too late. Lay offs have always been a part of the construction industry, and they always will be. The joke is, ??Don??t kill the job, let it die by itself,?? and the truth behind that joke is, that the better you are at what you do, the sooner you finish, and the sooner you finish, the sooner you find yourself unemployed. So you always know that a lay off is coming.

If the weather is good, you paint your house. You cut, split, and stack next winter??s cord of wood. You clean out the attic, the garage, and then the basement, then, all the closets. You take down the drapes, and then in heated discussion, decide with your wife, who is going to pay to clean them.

After 3 months, the house is spotless. You??re cutting the grass before it needs it, and a weed wouldn??t dare grow in the flower beds even though you didn??t buy mulch this year.

At 5 months, you hear your wife telling someone on the phone that ??he runs out to the mailbox the minute after the post man comes by, and he makes stacks out of everybody??s mail.?? And you realize that, yeah, you do. You have stopped answering the phone without first checking caller ID, it might seem like a little thing, but first you need to find your reading glasses.

And that 18 months of living expense monies that the experts tell you to keep liquid for emergencies was actually more like 4 months, because technically, the emergency started when Deb first got sick and missed 2 years of work. So, you are tapped and when the truck starts making a weird noise, you ignore it because you can??t afford to fix it.

The health and welfare sends you a letter with C.O.B.R.A. buy-in prices. It looks more like your mortgage. You can??t possibly come up with that much money, but your wife has already had cancer, so you have to. The question then becomes, what are you not going to pay?

Opponents of Destination Casinos will tell you that gaming will lead to a rise in foreclosure rates. Where I live, foreclosure rates would decline. Opponents will speak of the despair felt by a potential compulsive gambler, but the members of the building trades who have lived for the past two years as I have just described are not the potential unemployed, they are real men and women who need work, and need it now. The jobs that this plan would create mean much more than simply the ability to pay our bills on time. These jobs will allow us to plan our futures and to confidently make life altering decisions.

Thank you.

Carpenters to rally for jobs Posted by on

Union Carpenters will participate in a rally to support destination casinos prior to a hearing at the State House this Thursday, October 29.

The rally will being at 8:00 am on the steps of the State House by Boston Common.

TAGS: Casino

Bring good jobs to the Bay State Posted by on

An open letter to Union Carpenters in Massachusetts:

These are very difficult times in our Commonwealth. Many carpenters are facing unemployment conditions they have never seen in their careers. On top of that health care costs are rising and gas prices have us all constantly on edge. Far too many families have lost their homes or been forced to make difficult decisions when it comes to their home budgets.

But there is a way to turn the tide a bit. If we bring resort-style gaming to Massachusetts, thousands of good-paying jobs will come with it.

Every year Massachusetts residents cross the border to spend money at Connecticut casinos and slot parlors in Rhode Island and Maine. It happens more than eight-million times a year with spending approaching nearly $1 billion annually. Worse than lost revenue, in Connecticut alone, that industry supports over 19,000 jobs.

Legislation authorizing resort-style casinos in Massachusetts will create good-paying jobs offering health care for struggling middle-class and working poor residents, including thousands of construction jobs and thousands more permanent resort-style casino jobs that will pay an average of $45 thousand a year.

Is your family struggling or concerned? Do you think resort gaming in the Bay State could improve your life? Tell your local legislator to bring good jobs to the Bay State! Please click the link below and tell your local representative to authorize gaming in Massachusetts.

With your voice - and help - we can bring those jobs back home to where it belongs: in our Commonwealth!